Thursday, December 06, 2007

Strong or Asshole/Bitch?

What is most annoying about feminists such as Susan Estrich is that she doesn't seem to know the difference between a strong woman and a bitch. And neither do most feminists, it seems. In her opinion piece she makes the oft-heard claim that what is seen as good character traits in a man, aggressiveness, etc. are seen in a woman as making her a bitch. Wrong. The male equivalent of a bitch isn't a strong, aggressive, assertive, manly man. No. The male equivalent of the bitch is the asshole. Everyone knows what kind of man I'm talking about. The asshole is aggressive alright, but he's not actually strong, but weak. He's not assertive, but pushy and bullying. The "strong" woman, which is typically used to mean, the manly woman, has the same traits as the "strong" man. Margaret Thatcher is a strong woman. Condi Rice is a strong woman. Barbara Boxer is a strong woman. Why do you suppose it is that Estrich thinks HIllary Clinton comes off as a bitch? I fear, too, Hillary Clinton thinks the strong woman and the bitch are one and the same as well. Well, perhaps not fear it, since if she does come off that way to the voters, she won't win, and we will be spared her particular variety of socialist programs. But on the other hand, her running for office doesn't actually do anything positive for women in politics, especially at the political level, in the U.S.

Estrich laments the state of women in business, noting the lack of CEOs. I guess she failed to get the report that said that women do make CEO as often as men, but men hold on to the position much longer than their female counterparts. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out what the distribution of men vs. women in CEO positions will end up being. I suppose Estrich would argue that once women become CEOs, they must be being forced out by their sexist boards. The same boards that put them there. It doesn't occur to Estrich that these (and other) women may have other priorities. Yes, men and women have different priorities in life. They are different kinds of human beings, each donating something positive to the world (something feminists like Estrich don't believe, which is why they are so desperate to make women more manly). We typically think of manliness as "hard" and womanliness as "soft" and then think that hard is good, soft is bad. "Yet Taoists noticed that solvent seas pulverize rigid rocks into sand, that pliable lips protect brittle teeth; that softer ways can overcome and outlast harder ones. And so in some families, "Submissive" wives can eventually grind "dominant" husbands into domesticated dust. Externally, the man appears to be the family sovereign, or at least its figurehead, but internally, in Confucian as in most cultures, the woman rules the roost at home. In the West, as Emerson judiciously observed, a wife exerts greater influence over her husband -- for better or worse -- than does the government" (Marinoff, "The Middle Way," 126-7). I'd say for better, but perhaps that is just the libertarian in me coming out. In Tai Chi, you learn that you have to become like water and flow out of the way, that softness overcomes hardness, and if you make yourself hard, you will be more likely to be defeated. Thus, the martial arts too emphasize the feminine, insisting that you have it balanced with the masculine, if you wish to succeed, to overcome your opponents. This is, perhaps, a lesson for those in politics as well. This is a lesson Harvey Mansfield tries to convey in his book "Manliness" as well, that manliness and womanliness are two kinds of thinking, each equal, but different, but that there is a higher-level thinking that combines the two -- that the balance of yin and yang leads to the emergence of higher-level thinking. Of this I have little doubt, though in an interview of Mansfield by Naomi Woolf on Book TV, this point seemed to evade Woolf no matter how many times Mansfield pointed it out to her. As Nietzsche pointed out, we read what we bring to a book, and hear only what we already believe. Ah, how often that is true.
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